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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), from a detail of 'The School of Athens', a fresco by Raphael at the Vatican in Rome (image courtesy of wikicommons.org)

On the day of my first debate competition, nerves bounced around in my gut. I was scared that I would stumble over words or freeze up when being interrogated about what my speech said. I was also excited, though. I was eagerly awaiting the moment when I showed my team and our opponents what I could do in my speech. I couldn’t believe myself how far I came to get to that moment right before I stood up and talked about why a government should prioritize civil liberties over national security.

I have always been a very shy kid, so announcing that I wanted to try out for the debate team came as a surprise to many. Knowing me, no one would have thought that I would be brave enough to speak and be cross examined in front of people.

After I joined the team, at first, I was more interested in writing and researching, because that is what I do best. I am good at retrieving and analyzing evidence, as well as putting them into persuasive pieces of writing. But soon after we began to prepare and formulate arguments, I wanted to try to speak. I would watch other kids, because they were much more forceful, loud, and clear. I learned by watching these talented kids speak and defend their arguments. I saw how they always looked out at the audience, and no matter how loud they were afraid they could be, they always spoke in a persuasive and raised voice. I listened to their critiques and applied them to my own speech.

One day, one of the teachers told me to go up. I was certain that I would fail. But I did it anyway, because trying doesn’t hurt anybody. Even though I was shaking when I tried out, when it was my turn to finally speak, it was almost as if I had been speaking the whole time. To my astonishment, everyone loved it. I was then chosen to represent my team for one speech at the debate. This made me proud and showed me that I could be like many of those on my team.

My team won our first competition. After a lot of hard work, it finally paid off. I had made myself proud as well as the rest of the team. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

Through debate, I learned how to do things that I never thought I could do before. I learned how to speak persuasively and how to not be afraid to speak up. I came into debate as a smart girl who really just wanted to write and do research. But in the end, I had grown as a person and was ready to convince the judges that my side was the better one. If it weren’t for the debate team, I would still be a shy girl who was too afraid to express her opinion.

A note from the Stone Soup team: Thanks  Lucy! How many other readers have felt shy about speaking up and overcome their fear, like Lucy? Tell us about your experiences!

Reader Interactions


  1. Being afraid of something and then realizing that it is super fun is a chain of emotions that I experience often. Thank you for this blog post!

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